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Edible oil import bill up 75% in first nine months of FY22, say processors

He said edible oils should be imported at a high tariff to balance demand and supply. Also, the duty collected should be spent on developing the domestic oilseed sector rather than cross-subsidising other crops.

He said soybean processors were facing increased input costs and government pressure to maintain price. SOPA has suggested that imports of soybean oil or soybean meal should be restricted only to actual users to keep a check on undue speculative activities.
He said soybean processors were facing increased input costs and government pressure to maintain price. SOPA has suggested that imports of soybean oil or soybean meal should be restricted only to actual users to keep a check on undue speculative activities.

The country’s edible oils import bill rose sharply by 75% to Rs 1,04,354 crore during April-December 2021, officials of a processor association said. According to Davish Jain, chairman, Soybean Processors Association of India (SOPA), India had imported edible oils worth Rs 59,543 crore in the first nine months of the last fiscal.

“Our dependency on imports is helping countries exporting edible oils, and their oilseed growers, get premium prices. We are making them prosperous as India continues to be the single largest importer of edible oils in the world,” Jain said.

He said edible oils should be imported at a high tariff to balance demand and supply. Also, the duty collected should be spent on developing the domestic oilseed sector rather than cross-subsidising other crops.

India fulfils 60% of its domestic requirement of edible oil through imports. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced a national mission to make the country self-reliant in terms of edible oils, which aims to raise domestic production of edible oil and palm oil by investing more than `11,000 crore.

In a pre-budget representation submitted to the government, SOPA said the government should consider allowing subsidised inland freight or transport sops to help exporters compete for export of soy products in the international markets. “We have prepared a document to be submitted to the policy makers for taking cognisance of the various aspects of the ecosystem around soybean,” Jain said.

He said soybean processors were facing increased input costs and government pressure to maintain price. SOPA has suggested that imports of soybean oil or soybean meal should be restricted only to actual users to keep a check on undue speculative activities.

The government should also restrict soy oil import at lower duty to 2 lakh tonne per month, the association said. All imports above this quantity should be at the tariff rate. Whenever soybean prices go above 50% of the minimum support price, future trading should be suspended to keep inflation and raw material cost in check, Jain said.

He said high maximum retail price of edible oils is not justified and a cap should be stipulated at a maximum of 25%, including GST on ex-factory billing prices, especially on food products or FMCG.

Soybean meal exports have fallen sharply in this new oil year due to high prices in the international market, the association said. According to SOPA, exports of soybean meal in the new oil year from October to December stood at 3.81 lakh tonne as against 6.89 lakh tonne in the same period a year ago.

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